i love fresh pasta. if you have never made it, cooked it and smiled as you tasted it, you are missing out. maybe i’m just a dork lol. dork or not, much like making bread, there is something immensely satisfying about the process of making pasta from a few simple ingredients (and then realizing how GOOD it tastes). sometimes i do tend to get a little carried away in the kitchen but in this case i assure you, it is NOT overkill to make your own pasta. and it isn’t difficult at all as long as you have the right tools. i don’t think it is necessary to go with fresh dough for every pasta dish i cook (dried is more convenient and quite suitable for many dishes) but when i want a soft, supple, luscious noodle there is no substitute. i actually crave these noodles plain, they are that good (as long as they are cooked in well seasoned water). they especially go well with cream sauces: think alfredo, mmm… but also so delicious with a simple marinara like basil and garlic tomato sauce. you could certainly use them in recipes that call for “egg noodles” or just butter them and serve them as a side dish! something i think these WILL be absolutely divine in is carbonara… also, there is a restaurant in the buffalo, ny area called The Left Bank that serves a daily “ravioli” which is basically fresh egg pasta made into one GIANT ravioli with some sort of heavenly filling (depending on the mood of the chef), so of course i am going to need to recreate a version of this using the below recipe…
but i digress a bit; there is no sauce or giant ravioli recipe in this post, just the basic instructions and recipe for a versatile, simple and yummy egg pasta which you can use in many applications: you can cut this into spaghetti, fettuccine, make ravioli, manicotti (you get the idea). something i have yet to try is making lasagna with fresh pasta! when the weather starts to get a bit colder here i will do that, no doubt.
Fresh Egg Pasta
- 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs, beaten (you may add an additional yolk if you want them to be a bit richer)
- 1 tsp fine kosher or sea salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper (or use white pepper if you don’t want to see the “flecks” but i like how they look)
- 2 tsp olive oil
- pulse the flour, salt and pepper in the work-bowl of a food processor* fitted with a steel blade to aerate and evenly distribute
- add the beaten eggs and olive oil and process until the dough forms a rough ball
- depending on the temperature and humidity of your kitchen, your dough may be too wet or dry. if the dough is tacky and wet to the touch add flour, 1 tbsp at a time until it no longer sticks to the side of the work-bowl. alternately, if the dough is too crumby and doesn’t form a rough mass, add water a 1/2 tsp at a time
- dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface before it is fully kneaded, as you don’t want to overheat your food processor. it should look similar to this:
- knead until the dough is smooth. the goal here is not to rip the dough, rather to stretch it. use the heels of your palms and roll the mixture over itself. use your body weight to press on the dough- don’t be afraid, you won’t hurt it! this should take about 5 minutes.
- form dough into a smooth ball by pulling the edges to meet underneath and pulling the dough tight to give it a relatively smooth surface. it doesn’t have to be perfect.
- cover and let rest at room temperature at least a half hour and up to 2 hours. (if not using right away refrigerate and use within about 24 hours)
- use a manual pasta roller** or a stand mixer attachment to roll the dough into sheets. to start this, cut off about a quarter of the dough (the larger the piece you use, the longer it will get so stick with small pieces as they are much easier to work with) and flatten it a bit. run it through your roller on the widest setting (1 or 7 depending on your machine- mine is 7, 1 being the narrowest)
- fold the dough into thirds and put the dough through this setting two more times with the “opening” of the fold facing up (if the dough is tacky at all, dust it with flour)
- roll the past thinner by feeding it through the machine repeatedly, narrowing the setting by 1 each time until it is your desired thickness (or thinness i should say). i normally put my through until setting 3.
- you should be able to see the outline of your hand faintly through the pasta
- lay the sheet on a clean kitchen towel or sil pat and repeat with the rest of the dough. you can leave the dough uncovered for a few minutes but if you find that the remaining dough is taking you some time to work with, cover your finished sheets with a damp cloth to prevent them from drying out
- use your sheets as they are for rolled or stuffed pastas or attach the cutter to your pasta machine and cut fettuccine or spaghetti as desired
- cook your pasta in a large pot of boiling, WELL SALTED water (add more salt than you think you need! this is important or your pasta will be bland)
- stir very frequently to prevent your pasta from sticking together. cooking time will depend in the thickness of your pasta, check it (give it a taste but don’t burn your mouth) after a couple of minutes; it won’t take very long to cook. not even 5 minutes in most cases
- drain pasta, reserving some of the cooking water depending on your needs with the rest of your dish (remember this liquid is useful for adding body and flavor to sauces as it is starchy and salty, refer to spaghetti and meatballs down near the bottom of the post for more info on this and on cooking pasta in general!)
*if you don’t have a food processor you could certainly make your dough the “old fashioned way” by forming a ring of flour on a clean work surface and cracking the eggs into the middle. you then slowly beat the eggs with a fork and incorporate the flour from the edges a bit at a a time to eventually form your dough mass.
**if you don’t have a pasta machine you could roll out the dough with a pin, but you will need to knead it longer initially, as running it through the machine later on works the dough and builds gluten, which you want. you could then cut the sheet into strands with a sharp knife or a pizza cutter. this method certainly works but it will take more muscle and results will look more rustic (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).